Chemistry students doing a lab.

“We are studying the production of ethanol so that we can better understand the work that goes into making everyday life work. Such as how the ethanol is used in gas so that gas is less expensive since it’s less pure,” said chemistry student, Jacob Sweet. All Valley Heights Chemistry students have been participating in an ethanol lab and beginning to understand how ethanol is used in everyday situations. The lab consists of making corn mash (ground up corn) done by Susan Steinfort, the chemistry teacher at Valley Heights, prior to the experiment starting. The next step in making ethanol was to heat the corn mash and water until boiling then adding in different amounts and types of yeast and solutions to determine how it will affect ethanol production. All measurements of the yeast and chemicals were determined by each group of students.

All equipment that made this lab possible was provided to Mrs. Steinfort by the Kansas Corn Growers Association. Over 100 science teachers across the state were provided with kits, classroom lessons, and lab exercises to teach about ethanol, corn, and biotechnology. These kits, valued at about $500 per kit, include everything you would need to complete the labs that were provided by the Kansas Corn Growers Association. Every student in chemistry will also get the opportunity to attend a field trip to an ethanol plant on February third. This trip is also funded by Kansas Corn and Renew Kansas as an effort to get students more involved in exactly how their everyday necessities are made. Renew Kansas makes up the ethanol plants in Kansas and provides funding every year for this initiative. During the field trip, students will go to an ethanol plant to observe how ethanol is made on a large scale and be taught what is done with the extra waste from the whole process. Susan Steinfort excitedly says, “I attended a workshop called SEED to STEM sponsored by the Kansas Corn Growers Association and all of the supplies for the labs we learned were provided for us. I’m very excited for this trip and so grateful for the opportunity to teach students about something that affects them daily.”

Article by Kendelle Sweet